State Department Briefing by Marie Harf, March 14, 2014

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—March 14, 2014.

Index for Today’s Briefing

CLUE at The Drama Group


Restrictions on Media / Censorship Laws


Visit by University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

Deputy Spokesperson Harf Briefing at Foreign Press Center


Media Freedoms / Censorship Laws / Russian Press Operations in the U.S.


Uighurs Rescued / Call for Full Protection / Call for Investigation


Policy on Jewish State

Secretary Kerry’s Upcoming Meeting with Abbas

Framework Agreement /


Missing Plane / Cooperation / Working with Malaysia / 7th Fleet Assets / NTSB


Brahimi Remarks / Geneva II Process / Continuing Evaluation

Assad Regime / Politically Negotiated Solution

Russian Involvement / U.S.-Russia Relationship

Chemical Weapons Removal


Sanctions / Visa Bans / Further Costs

Referendum / Ukraine’s Constitution

Military Sales / International Law / Exercising Judgment and Restraint


Summit / Japan-South Korea Relations / Reconciliation and Dialogue


Indian Diplomat / Dismissal of Indictment/ Immunity / Dual Nationality / Southern District of New York


Sanctions / Missile Launches


Draft Law / Women’s’ Rights


Political Transition / Prime Minister Zeidan Efforts / Working with Libya



1:34 p.m. EDT

MS. HARF:  Good afternoon.  Apologies for the delay.  I have a couple things at the top and then turn it over to questions.  And I know you all heard the Secretary, which is, of course, why we were delayed.

So in addition, of course, to all of the other issues we’ve talked about recently with Russia’s behavior, the United States is deeply troubled by the rapidly shrinking space for independent and free media in Russia.  The recent closure of RIA Novosti, the changes in leadership at and other outlets, and the decision to block a number of independent websites and blogs are unfortunately just the most recent examples of this harmful trend.  In the last year, the Russian Government has passed laws imposing unprecedented censorship and restrictions on media and online publications. 

These developments effectively stifle the expression of alternative views, restrict the space for independent discussion, and facilitate the spreading of government-controlled narratives that are patently false.  The United States continues to support the fundamental rights of all people to exercise their freedoms of expression and assembly, regardless of their political views.  These are rights Russia has enshrined in its own constitution and committed to itself to protect as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and as a signatory to the UN declarations.

One more thing at the top before going to questions.  I want to welcome our visitors today in the back.  We are pleased to have with us today Charles Skinner, adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, joined by a number of students from his class on foreign policy and diplomacy.  So welcome.  I think you’ll probably see some diplomacy in action today, hopefully.

And just one little scheduling note.  As you probably know, I’m going to brief some of your colleagues at the Foreign Press Center later this afternoon.  So I would stay up –


MS. HARF:  The Foreign Press Center.


MS. HARF:  I am.  So I would stay up here for four hours if I could, but I have about 45 minutes.  So let’s – your questions are always on point, but let’s keep them especially on point today.

QUESTION:  Really?

MS. HARF:  Especially yours, Matt.  Yours are always on point.

QUESTION:  So they’re more important than we are?  Is that what you’re saying?

MS. HARF:  They’re getting less time than you are, but the Secretary ran late, and I thought you would like to see his words more than mine.

QUESTION:  Can I just —

MS. HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  I don’t suppose that you have a whole hell of a lot more to say on Ukraine than what we already know from the Secretary and Foreign Minister Lavrov and everyone else in the world who’s opined about this.

MS. HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  So I won’t ask about that.  But I do —

MS. HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  — I am interested in your statement about the – Russia and the —

MS. HARF:  The media freedom?

QUESTION:  Yeah, the media freedom.  Are you aware of any discussion about possible – I don’t know if the right word is retaliation.  But there are several government – Russian Government funded agencies that operate in the United States. 

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Are – is there any discussion about —

MS. HARF:  Media – press operations, you mean?

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Uh-huh.  Russia Today being one of them and is – that I think you are including in this group of government-controlled outlets that are spinning narratives that you say are patently false. 

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Is there any talk, that you’re aware of, of doing anything about that?

MS. HARF:  Not that I’m aware of.  Of course, we think that people should be able, here or elsewhere, to report as they see fit.

QUESTION:  All right.  I don’t have anything else.

MS. HARF:  Great.  Thank you.

QUESTION:  Can we go —

MS. HARF:  Yeah.  Let me go to Arshad, and then we’re going to go around.

QUESTION:  Sure, sure.

QUESTION:  One quick one.

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.  Yeah.

QUESTION:  Are you aware of the report of the number of refugees in Thailand from China?  And are you doing anything to try to ensure that they are not simply deported back to China and potentially to face persecution there?

MS. HARF:  You’re talking about the Uighurs, I’m assuming?

QUESTION:  Yes.  Yep, yep, yep.

MS. HARF:  Which I don’t know if folks have seen, but we do welcome reports that a group of approximately 200 Uighurs were rescued by Thai police from a camp in which they were being held.  We are urging the Thai Government to provide full protection to the victims to ensure that their humanitarian needs are meant – are met, excuse me – and continue to urge and encourage Thailand to conduct thorough investigations for signs of trafficking, including in cases with alleged government complicity, and to bring trafficking offenders to justice.  As you know, we are concerned about Uighurs generally, again, welcome reports that these Uighurs were rescued.  I don’t have more about our conversations in terms of them going back to China, but as I said, we’re encouraging Thailand to make sure their humanitarian needs are met.

QUESTION:  And would you oppose their going back to China?

MS. HARF:  I can check with our folks and see if we have a position on that.  I don’t know the answer.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Because human – there are human rights groups who are afraid that they would face persecution on their return.

MS. HARF:  Absolutely.  And I’m aware of those concerns.  I just want to make sure I know where our team stands on that.

QUESTION:  Good.  Thank you.

MS. HARF:  Thanks.  Said, yes.

QUESTION:  I want to go to the peace process, but before that, could I ask you about the visit of former Vice President Dick Cheney to Cairo?  Do you know anything about that?  He was greeted by —

MS. HARF:  I know nothing about that, actually.  But go ahead and ask if you want.

QUESTION:  Okay.  No, it’s all right.  I just want to —

MS. HARF:  I can – I really – it’s not surprising that I’m not a spokesperson for the former Vice President.  I don’t have any details about that.

QUESTION:  Okay.  All right.  Then I want to go to the peace process.

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Yesterday Secretary Kerry made it clear before the committee that the issue of the Jewish aspect of Israel —

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  — had been resolved in Resolution 181 back in 1947.  So is that your position now, that this issue had already been resolved way back then?

MS. HARF:  Well, I think what the Secretary said – and what the President and the Secretary have said many times – is that the United States position on Israel —


MS. HARF:  — is clear, that it is a Jewish state. 


MS. HARF:  That’s been clear for years.  The President said it at the UN General Assembly. 


MS. HARF:  He said it multiple times.  And Secretary Kerry repeated this again yesterday.  In terms of the specific framework discussions, obviously I’m not going to get into those specifics, which should not be a surprise to you.  But our position on the Jewish state issue is very clear. 

QUESTION:  So you feel that the parameters of Resolution 181 are sufficient to recognize the state of Israel by any country?

MS. HARF:  I’m not speaking more broadly than the United States position.  I am not speaking to a specific resolution.  I’m saying what our position is based on a whole host of reasons.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And I asked Jen, but she did not have an idea at the time:  Will there be – will the Secretary meet in the State Department with the Palestinian Authority President Abbas and his team?

MS. HARF:  On Monday?  When he’s in town?

QUESTION:  Uh-huh.  I mean, at any time.  Because he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he was visiting.

MS. HARF:  Well, I know there’ll be meetings.


MS. HARF:  I don’t think we have a final schedule yet.


MS. HARF:  And I know the Secretary will be in meetings.

QUESTION:  Right. 

MS. HARF:  I just don’t know where they all would be held.

QUESTION:  I understand.  Will there be a meeting in the State Department?

MS. HARF:  I don’t know what the schedule is for Monday yet.  As we have more details, we’re happy to provide them.

QUESTION:  Okay.  And lastly, do we expect any kind of announcement on the framework agreement?

MS. HARF:  On Monday, or ever?

QUESTION:  I mean on Monday or the day after or anything like that.

MS. HARF:  Well, I’d remind you that Monday’s meeting is the latest in a series of meetings.


MS. HARF:  As you mentioned, Prime Minister Netanyahu was just here meeting with folks.  We’ve been constantly engaged with the negotiators on the ground, certainly.  So this is just the last – sort of the next meeting that’s on the schedule.  We’ve said we’re working towards a framework.  I don’t have any crystal ball to look into about when that might get done.  Obviously we want it to get done as soon as possible, but no predictions on when.

QUESTION:  And on the issue of the – where they stand, the gap between the two sides, the Secretary suggested last week that it was quite wide.  Is it getting any closer?  Do you feel that the gap now is narrowing?

MS. HARF:  Well, I’m not sure exactly which comments of the Secretary you’re referring to.  He said there are clearly gaps that remain, but we’re making progress and want to keep making progress until we get a framework, and just want to see the process continue moving forward.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS. HARF:  Yes.  I’ll go here.  Yes.

QUESTION:  I have a question actually about Malaysia.

MS. HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  Yesterday, the United States Navy moved some of its assets to the Indian Ocean, and part of that was based on information they got from the Malaysian Government, but it was days after the plane crash.  So just curious, on a general level, does the United States feel that the Malaysian Government is being forthcoming with information with regards to this crash?

MS. HARF:  Well, as you – I think your question alludes to, the Malaysian Government has the lead for this investigation.  We and a number of other countries – China, Thailand, other countries as well – are assisting in the investigation and we’re cooperating with them and helping in any way we can.  I’d remind people – and I don’t probably need to say this – but it is a pretty unprecedented situation that a plane is missing for this long.  They’re looking at a number of different explanations.  But they’re operating in a very difficult situation.  They, more than anyone, want to find out what happened to this plane.  And so obviously we’ll continue working with them.

QUESTION:  Well, the fact that there are three Americans that were on the plane —

MS. HARF:  Of course.

QUESTION:  So are you – is the United States – what sort of cooperation is there between the Malaysian Government in terms of trying to —

MS. HARF:  There’s been consistent cooperation since this plane tragically went missing.  As you said, our Seventh Fleet assets are working in the region, along with other partners as well.  So we’re very committed to doing anything we can to assist them as they lead in this investigation. 

QUESTION:  May I follow that?

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Because some – I mean, according to the news reports, some U.S. officials that they’re pursuing a theory that someone caused the disappearance of the plane.  Is there any kind of more information to share with us?

MS. HARF:  Well, as I said, the Malaysian officials have the lead for the investigation into what happened.  We are helping, of course.  But in terms of figuring out what happened, they have the lead.  And I know right now they’re looking at a number of different explanations.  I don’t know the latest in terms of if one is more probable than others.  But the point is they’re committed to getting to the facts about what happened here.  And when they have anything to update on their investigation, I’m sure they will.

QUESTION:  I mean from the United side and the FAA and also NTSB are also send some crews to Malaysia to getting involved investigating this issue.

MS. HARF:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  So, I mean, how many agencies or staff or – including military from United States – are getting involved this investigation?

MS. HARF:  Are assisting?  Well, a number.  I don’t know if I have the exact number.  But as you said, the NTSB has some U.S.-based representatives who have been working on this case and the FAA representatives as well.  I think they arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the 10th, obviously the Department of Defense through the Seventh Fleet.  We obviously stand ready to help in any way we can.  I don’t know if there are more, but there may – there very well may be.  I just don’t know.


QUESTION:  (Inaudible.)

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Now the search has expanded to the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal.  Today, Pentagon said they are searching the Bay of Bengal and (inaudible) also.  And Indians are also doing the same in that part.  Is there any kind of coordination between you and Indians on this issue?

MS. HARF:  I’m guessing we’re coordinating with everyone we’re working with on this, including Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Brunei, New Zealand, Australia.  I would guess that we’re coordinating with everyone as we figure out which areas to search and where to look and how to get to the facts about what happened here. 


QUESTION:  Can we go to Syria?

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  Okay.  Today a group of senators, including Senator Menendez and others and so on, saying that the Administration is not doing anything about Syria, and they are trying to push for arming the opposition and training the opposition and having a more active role for the U.S.  Could you comment on that?

MS. HARF:  Well, I didn’t see their specific comments. 


MS. HARF:  But from how you characterized them, it’s not a new comment that has come from folks about our policy in Syria.  What we’ve said all along, Said, is that we’re doing a number of things that we believe are the policy to try and get to a diplomatic solution here.  We are actively pursuing, as you saw probably Joint Special Representative Brahimi brief the Security Council —

MS. HARF:  — on the 13th and 14th about what is happening with the Geneva II process.  We are fully committed to a diplomatic process here.  What that looks like going forward needs to be determined.  There are a lot of question marks there.  We are working actively to try to push people to get Syria to continue with the chemical weapons destruction.  We are continuing to work on humanitarian assistance.  We are continuing to work on a whole host of things.  Just because we’re not doing the certain things that they’ve recommended doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything.  That’s a false dichotomy.

QUESTION:  In view of what the Secretary said yesterday, that Assad is not losing – I think those were his words – 

MS. HARF:  But he also said he’s not winning.

QUESTION:  He’s not winning, yeah.  So – yeah, there is no —

MS. HARF:  And we’ve frequently said it’s basically a stalemate, right?

QUESTION:  But is there a feeling of being compelled to do something, perhaps in terms of supplying more arms or better training, as is the case in Jordan now?  It is our understanding that there are – that the Americans are training certain elements within the Syrian opposition on arms and on —

MS. HARF:  Well, we’re constantly looking at what else we can do.  All – you don’t need to see the Secretary’s testimony yesterday to feel compelled to do more.  All you have to do is look at what’s happening on the ground.  So, as he said some weeks ago, we are constantly reevaluating our policy options, seeing if there’s more we can do, but always evaluating it in the context of what will help make a diplomatic resolution more probable, help the people on the ground, and not just do things to do things, to make ourselves feel better.  We need to do them with an outcome in mind and a goal, and in some way that it’s helping us with our ultimate goal here.

QUESTION:  And finally, I wonder if I can get you to comment on today, the presidential campaign for President Bashar al-Assad was launched from Homs.  I wonder if you would comment on that, and in view of what Brahimi said yesterday, that he has not heard anything about this, but all indications show that there is going to be a campaign.

MS. HARF:  Well, we’ve been clear that Assad has lost all legitimacy to lead his people, and any sort of campaign that he might run would be offensive and disgusting, I think, after what he’s done to his people over the last many, many months.  Obviously, beyond that, the planning of any national election at this time I think would be an affront to the Geneva talks, would only make more clear that the regime is intent on undermining prospects for a political solution.  And obviously, we’ve said repeatedly, as have all of our international partners, that there is only a political, negotiated, diplomatic solution here.  That’s what’s in the best interests of the Syrian people.  If Bashar al-Assad had anything in him that wanted him to still support the Syrian people, which I don’t think he does, but if he did, this would not be the way to go about doing so.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION:  Yes, Marie.  Assuming that Russia was your partner, as we can say, in this diplomatic effort with Syria —

MS. HARF:  On CW or in general?

QUESTION:  No, no, Syria and diplomatic efforts in general.

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  And then I assume now there is some troubles with Russia.  Who is going to be your partner or ready to push with you or without you the Assad regime to do something on this front?

MS. HARF:  Well, a couple points on this.  We’ve always said, broadly speaking about our relationship with Russia, that there will be times we very strongly disagree, whether it’s about Syria, clearly whether it’s about Ukraine, which we’ve talked about a lot.  But we need to continue working with them and engaging with them on all of these issues where we disagree and where we agree to see if we can move the diplomatic process forward.

So on Syria, we have worked with the Russians to ask them to really push the Assad regime.  There aren’t that many countries that have any influence with the Assad regime.  Russia is one of them.  That they need to push the Assad regime to allow humanitarian access, to come to the table, to destroy their chemical weapons.  Certainly we still have some disagreements with the Russians on Syria.  That’s not a secret.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to work with them on it.  In fact, I think it makes it even more important that we try to work with them on it to see if we can narrow some of those gaps and see if we can get the Assad regime to maybe change some of its behavior.  But quite frankly, we haven’t seen indications that that’s the point – that that’s the case at this point yet.

QUESTION:  Somehow related and – but it’s about Syria, last week, the Deputy Secretary Burns, on the Hill, he said that by the end of this week – I mean, which is today, Friday – almost 30 percent of the chemical weapons will be shipped or somehow —

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm, one-third, yeah.

QUESTION:  One-third?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Is there any update about that?

MS. HARF:  It’s my understanding that one-third – about one-third of the chemical weapons have been removed at this point, but we need to see more progress.  I think, as the Special Coordinator said last week, the June 30th deadline is still achievable, but March is a critical month, and that the Syrians can’t just undertake steps to move this stuff when there’s a looming Security Council meeting or conveniently an OPCW Executive Council meeting.  The timing here seems to not be a coincidence.  So we have made some progress, but we are still quite far away from where we need to be.  But the deadline is still achievable.

QUESTION:  Just a – just clarification.  What do you mean, moved?  Moved from where to where?

MS. HARF:  Removed from Syria.

QUESTION:  Removed from Syria?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  I mean, it’s shipped out, you mean?

MS. HARF:  That’s my understanding.  Let me double-check on that, but that a third of it has been removed from Syria.  Let me double-check on that for you, but I think that’s the case.

Yes.  We’re – go around.  Yes.

QUESTION:  Hi, back to the Ukraine crisis.  Some EU officials are to be gathering on Monday to discuss possible sanctions against Russia.  And the Bild newspaper is saying that part of those sanctions will include visa bans and asset freezes on 13 Russian officials —

MS. HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  — political and business leaders.  Are those 13 officials included on a U.S. visa ban lists?  Will they be included on the visa ban list on Monday?  And is such a visa ban part of the sanctions that Secretary Kerry was just talking about might be imposed on them?

MS. HARF:  Well, a couple points on that. When we announced the visa bans – when we were traveling, I think – was it last week – all of the weeks are sort of running together now – we don’t publicly say the names of the people that are on those bans or the number of those visa bans.  We said they were Russians and Ukrainians, but we don’t specify beyond that.  So I can’t tell you if they link up one-to-one.  We’ve obviously been coordinating with the EU, though, on all of these issues, broadly speaking.

Second, the Secretary was very clear that there will be costs – there will be further costs, that we’ve already put in place an executive order, a framework for sanctions, for designations and visa bans based on Russia’s actions it’s already taken in Crimea.  If the referendum goes forward, there will be more costs.  I’m going to outline for you what those might look like, but I think we’ve been very clear that a number of options are on the table.

QUESTION:  Yes, please.

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm. 

QUESTION:  Just follow-up.

MS. HARF:  Yeah.

QUESTION:  When you say visas ban, it means that – where?  I mean, what is the —

MS. HARF:  It means they can’t come to the United States, and if they have an existing United States visa it is revoked.

QUESTION:  No, I mean it’s – when you say we are coordinating with the EU, which means Europe too, or not Europe?

MS. HARF:  Well, our visa bans that we put in place only apply to visas to come to the United States.

QUESTION:  But you are not doing the same thing with European?

MS. HARF:  Well, we don’t have control over EU visas; they do.  And if they put visa bans in place, obviously that would apply to their visas.

Yes, in the back.

QUESTION:  Thanks.  I wanted to ask on Ukraine – the – first there’s talk of the Security Council resolution – seems pretty clear that Russia would veto it, but there’s some discussion of trying – is it the U.S.’s intention to try to get a vote on a resolution declaring the referendum illegal before Sunday?

And also, Lavrov mentioned, and also Churkin as well, this example of Mayotte.  They used – I mean, they’ve come up with different examples – Kosovo and others – but one in particular.  Both of them raised an island of Comoros where France organized an referendum to break Comoros off – to break Mayotte off from Comoros, and said that this wasn’t authorized by the UN or the African Union.  So I just wondered – I mean, maybe you’ll slap it down, but what’s the response to their argument?

MS. HARF:  Well, in general, I think that it’s very clear under Ukraine’s constitution that governs Ukraine how this kind of referendum legally could take place.  And that would involve a country-wide referendum, basically relying on the premise that any decisions about Ukraine’s territory need to be made by all of the people of Ukraine.  So setting aside any comparisons, there are very clear rules in Ukraine’s constitution, which is in effect, that lay out how this kind of referendum could take place.  That’s not what we see here.  So any comparisons aside, they just don’t have relevancy here.

On the first question, I don’t have anything on a potential Security Council resolution.  We’ve been very clear that there will be costs.  I don’t have anything to outline for you in terms of what that might look like, but we as the United States, independently, have a number of tools at our disposal that we can use if and when we need to make clear those costs with this referendum going forward.

QUESTION:  And also, on – just on Ukraine, one question that’s come up is, in terms of sanctions is France has this big deal where it’s selling Mistral warships to Russia, and it’s said that it’s going forward.  What does the United States think of that sale of military hardware?

MS. HARF:  Well, decisions about these kind of sales are obviously a matter for each sovereign state to take into account including a host of factors – obviously, international law, regional stability.  We would hope that any country would exercise judgment and restraint when it comes to transferring military equipment that could exacerbate tensions in any conflict region.  In general, I think that certainly applies here.

QUESTION:  Can I follow on that?

MS. HARF:  Yeah, we’ll follow on.

QUESTION:  Have you talked with the French at all about that specific deal?

MS. HARF:  I don’t know the answer.  Let me see if I can get you an answer on that.

Anything else on Ukraine?  Ukraine?

QUESTION:  Can I just ask you – I realize this is hypothetical, but when you say that this referendum is illegal and that there is a way —

MS. HARF:  We will not recognize it.

QUESTION:  Yeah, and that there’s a way to – there’s a legal way to do it.

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:   Does that necessarily mean that if there was a Ukraine-wide referendum in which a majority of people voted for Crimea to become part of Russia, that you would have no problem with that?

MS. HARF:  I don’t want to say yes or no to a hypothetical, but we have said that there is a way under the constitution.  I think the Ukrainians have even said they would be open to discussing what that might look like.  So I don’t want to say yes or no without knowing the details, but there is a process.


MS. HARF:  And hypothetically, if that process —

QUESTION:  If the process —

MS. HARF:  — were followed, I’m sure we would look much more favorably on it than what’s happening.  I just don’t want to say yes or no, because there could be a loophole or something crazy that gets thrown back at me.

QUESTION:  Right.  But – right, right.  But, I mean, if it did follow the Ukrainian constitutional process, it wouldn’t necessarily be illegal.

MS. HARF:  Correct.  But part of this also has been the notion of people voting with all these Russian troops in their country, voting under the situation they’re currently in, and that’s obviously part of it as well.  But yeah, if that happens, we can have that discussion then.

QUESTION:  So you believe that the Ukraine constitution is still operable —

MS. HARF:  Absolutely.

QUESTION:  — although people have thrown the legitimately elected government and so on?  Are they working within that constitution?

MS. HARF:  The Ukraine constitution is absolutely still in effect, yes. 


QUESTION:  Yeah.  A change in topic, if that’s all right.

MS. HARF:  Yes.  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  I wanted to ask you about the – what you can tell us about the possibility of a trilateral summit between Japan, South Korea, and the U.S. on the margins of The Hague meeting.

MS. HARF:  Yeah, let me see.  I don’t think I have anything to announce on that, I know will be surprising to you.  Let me see what I have.  Yeah, nothing to announce about a specific summit.  Obviously, we expect Japan and South Korea to work together to resolve their differences.  We have encouraged both countries to take steps that would contribute to reconciliation.  We’ll continue to do that.  I don’t have anything to announce about a possible meeting.  As you know, we’re not a mediator, per se, but we, as close partners of both countries, are working with both of them.

QUESTION:  Is this – is it something you’re pushing for though, this kind of meeting?

MS. HARF:  I don’t have more for you on that in terms of specifically what we think this reconciliation might look like.  Obviously, we think dialogue is good.  We think these kinds of meetings in general are good, so of course, I’m sure it’s something we would support.  I just don’t have anything specific (inaudible). 

QUESTION:  Just a last follow-up on that:  The two countries, Japan and South Korea, held a vice foreign minister-level meeting, and after that, Korean Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong said that we would – that in order for such a summit to happen, South Korea would first need to see further atonement for Japan on Japan’s side for its World War II-era actions.  Is that an action that you are encouraging Japan to take?

MS. HARF:  I think what we’re saying to both parties is that they should do things that encourage reconciliation and dialogue.  Obviously, it’s up to the two parties, right, to talk directly about what that might look like or communicate with each other about what that might look like.  But broadly speaking, we are very much encouraging dialogue about past issues and how to work together moving forward.



MS. HARF:  Oh, wait.  Do you —

QUESTION:  Not on this.

MS. HARF:  Okay.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  I just want to take us back in time —

MS. HARF:  And then I’ll go to you.

QUESTION:  — two days ago, when prosecutors in New York dismissed the – a judge dismissed the charges against this Indian diplomat.  The reaction from this building, from Jen, was that you were surprised, and I’m just wondering if you can —

MS. HARF:  Yeah.  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  — elaborate or explain why exactly it is that you were surprised —

MS. HARF:  Absolutely.

QUESTION:  — at the dismissal.

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.  We were surprised by the dismissal of the indictment.  We were, of course, aware of the motion to dismiss the charges.  We had submitted to the court a brief containing our legal position on immunity.  We were surprised because we learned about this when the ruling was released on Wednesday, which I think is probably the definition of surprise, and —

QUESTION:  I’m sorry.  When did you submit the —

MS. HARF:  When – we learned about this when the ruling was released publicly on Wednesday —

QUESTION:  I understand, right.  No, no, when did —

MS. HARF:  — which I said is the definition of surprise, probably.

QUESTION:  So you would have liked a heads-up?  Is that what you’re saying?

MS. HARF:  Well, again, we made clear in the brief we submitted to the court what our position was on immunity.


MS. HARF:  I’ve seen the reports that charges will be refiled from, I think, a Southern District of New York statement. 

QUESTION:  Right.  But wait, so –

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  But you – when did – do you know when you submitted – excuse me.

MS. HARF:  The brief?


MS. HARF:  I’m not sure.  It was a while ago, I think several weeks ago, maybe longer.  I don’t have the exact date.  Let me see if I – I think it’s actually publicly available on the website. 

QUESTION:  All right.

MS. HARF:  I can see if I can get you the exact —

QUESTION:  With a stamp on it, presuming it says the date.  So I’m – but I’m still not exactly sure.  So you – in other words, when you say you were surprised, you just had no forewarning that —

MS. HARF:  Correct.  We were – which is the definition of surprised.

QUESTION:  And – right, right.  And that —

MS. HARF:  And we were surprised because we’ve made our position very clear.

QUESTION:  — it’s contrary to your —

MS. HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — to the position that you submitted to the court.

MS. HARF:  Correct, that we think was very clear.

QUESTION:  So the State Department’s position –

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm. 

QUESTION:  Just to be sure, the State Department’s position was that she did not have immunity?

MS. HARF:  Our position regarding immunity, that the U.S. Government took in the brief opposing the motion to dismiss, was that she had full immunity only for a very brief period, a day – which we’ve talked about in here, I know —

QUESTION:  Right. 

MS. HARF:  — between the time she was accredited to the U.S. – UN mission, excuse me – and the time she left the country.  So — 

QUESTION:  Right. 

MS. HARF:  So our argument in the brief, again, which I think is available and I should probably read in its entirety, is that she did not enjoy immunity — 

QUESTION:  Retroactive —

MS. HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  — immunity.  Okay. 

MS. HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  And so you – part – so in other words, besides the fact that you just learned of it, you had no forewarning of it.  

MS. HARF:  Correct.

QUESTION:  You were also – your surprise is also that the court disagreed with you? 

MS. HARF:  Correct, yes. 


MS. HARF:  Our – yes. 

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS. HARF:  Surprise all around.

QUESTION:  Can I follow up on —

MS. HARF:  Oh, yeah.  Follow up, yeah. 

QUESTION:  The two daughters of Devyani, who are U.S. citizens, all do also have Indian passport, a media report said.  Are you aware about it? 

MS. HARF:  I’m sorry.  Say the last part of your question.

QUESTION:  The two daughters of Devyani (inaudible) —

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.  They’re – are they dual citizens?  Is that what you’re asking?

QUESTION:  Yeah, they have a – they are U.S. citizens —

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  — but they are also carrying Indian passports. 

MS. HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  Are you aware about it?  And is it legal? 

MS. HARF:  Well, the U.S. law does not prohibit dual nationality. 


MS. HARF:  So — 

QUESTION:  But you don’t have a similar arrangement with Indians.  You have a similar arrangement with other countries, but not with India. 

MS. HARF:  I’m not sure I understand the exact – dual nationality is allowed with a number of different countries, yes.  I don’t have anything specific in terms of her daughters.  I’m not sure what your question is getting at.  I’m sorry.

QUESTION:  So that’s nothing is objectionable for them to carry two passports? 

MS. HARF:  No.  I mean, I’m not speaking about their specific cases.  I don’t know what their specific case is, and we probably wouldn’t anyways, but there is nothing in U.S. law that prohibits dual nationality.

QUESTION:  And in view of the developments in New York, do you stand by the charges that you filed against Devyani?

MS. HARF:  Well, we didn’t file charges.  The Southern District of New York filed charges.  We don’t file charges.  We’re part of the investigation.

QUESTION:  But this was —

MS. HARF:  We stand by our motion that we filed in the brief opposing the dismissal of the charges.  We stand by that position, absolutely, yes.

QUESTION:  Yes, please. 

MS. HARF:  Yes.

QUESTION:  Follow-up. 

MS. HARF:  Follow-up?  Okay, then – yeah. 

QUESTION:  Yes.  When you say, “We are surprised” —

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  — you’re surprised that the case was dismissed, or you were informed by the – after the public was —

MS. HARF:  Both. 


MS. HARF:  Both. 

QUESTION:  So another question.  I think in the case of this diplomat was said that she is leaving the country but she cannot come back, right?  I’m not sure.  I’m just – correct me if I’m wrong. 

MS. HARF:  Well, I can check on that.  Now that she’s left the United States, she no longer has immunity. 

QUESTION:  So now is even the case is dismissed, she will be able to come back? 

MS. HARF:  I – let me check with DOJ.  Also, the Southern District of New York did say publicly, I think, that they will be re-filing charges.  So, obviously, I’m sure we’ll be having conversations over the coming days about where this process goes going forward.


QUESTION:  Following those things, the State Department had taken a number of steps that she cannot come back, some criminal charges will be filed if she comes back —

MS. HARF:  No, we’ve said that if she comes — 

QUESTION:  — and we need more than the visa list of —

MS. HARF:  — that after she leaves the country, she no longer has immunity.  That’s what we said.

QUESTION:  So she is no longer welcome in the U.S.? 

MS. HARF:  I didn’t say that.  I didn’t say that.

QUESTION:  Now, if – what’s the position on–

MS. HARF:  I said she no longer has immunity. 

QUESTION:  What’s – can she come to the U.S. now? 

MS. HARF:  Anybody is able to apply for a visa to come to the United States.  All visa applications are adjudicated and decisions are made on them individually. 

QUESTION:  So she can apply for a visa at this point in time? 

MS. HARF:  Anyone can apply for a visa.

QUESTION:  Including Mr. Modi, right? 

MS. HARF:  Exactly.  The line should sound familiar, yes. 

QUESTION:  Thank you, Marie.  (Inaudible.)  On North Korea, it is reported that the North Korean missile launch issue will be bring into UN security committee on next week. 

MS. HARF:  Next week?

QUESTION:  Yeah, March 19th

MS. HARF:  Is there a specific meeting on it next week?

QUESTION:  Yeah, March 19th, they reported. 

MS. HARF:  Okay. 

QUESTION:  Did the – does the U.S. have any individual sanctions against North Korea regarding this issue? 

MS. HARF:  We have a whole plethora of sanctions on North Korea about a whole host of issues, including its missile program, including its nuclear program.  I’m not familiar with the specific topic of next week’s Security Council meeting. 

QUESTION:  But the reason they missile launch —

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  — North Korea missile launch, do you know reason they did launch the 10 missiles? 

MS. HARF:  Well, I think – again, not knowing the specifics of what meeting you’re asking about, I think these missile launches tend to be in violation of a slew of UN Security Council resolutions.  We have a number of sanctions on them, both international multilateral sanctions and also bilateral sanctions, but let me see if I can get more on that specific meeting. 

Yes, Said. 

QUESTION:  Yeah.  Iraq?

MS. HARF:  Mm-hmm.

QUESTION:  Are you aware of a law that allows parent – fathers or guardians to marry off their 9-year-old girls?

MS. HARF:  Yes. 

QUESTION:  And what is your comment on that?

MS. HARF:  This is a draft law.  We understand that this draft law, which I think several high-level Iraqi political and religious leaders have publicly condemned and claim violates the rights of Iraqi women – has been sent to the council of representatives for consideration.  We absolutely share the strong concerns of the UN mission in Iraq, which has noted that this law risks constitutionally protected rights for women.  The draft law I think is pending before the parliament right now.  It would require three readings before a vote could take place, so we’ll obviously be watching the debate closely and welcome a parliamentary process that ensures the rights of all Iraqis, including women, are fully protected in line with its constitution.

And I would also note that some women’s groups, some human rights NGOs, have also condemned the draft law as a significant step backwards for women’s rights in Iraq.

QUESTION:  Sorry to do this, but I have to go back to the Indian diplomat —

MS. HARF:  Okay.

QUESTION:  — because within the last several minutes —

MS. HARF:  You’ve been reading the brief right now, haven’t you, Matt?

QUESTION:  No.  Within the last several minutes, prosecutors have re-indicted her.  So —

MS. HARF:  There you go.  I told you, you ask too many questions, you’re going to get behind the news.

QUESTION:  Well, we could have had a briefing yesterday and you could have explained that.  (Laughter.)

MS. HARF:  We don’t brief when the Secretary is on the Hill.

QUESTION:  I know.  All right, so are you surprised?

MS. HARF:  He was there for, like, six hours yesterday.

QUESTION:  You’re clearly not surprised at the re-indictment because you —

MS. HARF:  Well, they said publicly they were going to.

QUESTION:  All right.  So —

MS. HARF:  I’m surprised that it happened now.  I don’t know it was happening right now.

QUESTION:  It just did.

MS. HARF:  The surprise continues.

QUESTION:  So is there – can you find out?  Because I doubt that it’s in your rather large book.

MS. HARF:  I am trying to make this book smaller, I just want everyone to know that.

QUESTION:  Is there – what’s the extradition treaty, like, if there is one, between —

MS. HARF:  I do not know.

QUESTION:  Okay.  So that would be —

QUESTION:  There is one.

QUESTION:  So that would be one question, but —

MS. HARF:  Someone thinks there is one.  Let me check.

QUESTION:  Yeah, I believe there is one as well, but there – different extradition treaties say different things.

MS. HARF:  Yeah, mm-hmm.  I’ll check.

QUESTION:  So would it cover something or do you – is it the U.S. Government’s position that it would cover something like this?  That’s —

MS. HARF:  I can check. 

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS. HARF:  Yes, yes.

QUESTION:  Yes, please.  Some – another topic.  Libya.

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.

QUESTION:  In the last few days, there is a lot of – I mean, tensions are going on and it’s not there – the prime minister is not there anymore in all this —

MS. HARF:  Uh-huh.  I think he’s still there; he’s not prime minister anymore, I think.

QUESTION:  Yeah.  I mean, who knows.

MS. HARF:  Who knows.  Go ahead.

QUESTION:  So anyway, sorry, I’m not diplomat like you and I’m trying to use my language.

MS. HARF:  (Laughter.)

QUESTION:  So it’s – so what’s your reading?  I mean, how do you see what’s going on there?

MS. HARF:  Well, I think a couple points.  Obviously, we’ve been closely following the developments that have been happening on the ground.  I think one point we make all the time with Libya, certainly, but other countries too, is that political transitions take time, and these are decisions for the Libyan people to decide.  I’m not going to, I think, weigh in on internal Libyan political situations much more than that.  Obviously, we’ve recognized the leadership that Prime Minister Zeidan displayed while navigating what I think anyone would call a fragile time in Libya’s transition.  But our support isn’t for one person, it’s not for one party, it’s for a process, and we want to keep working with Libya to help them move forward with this admittedly very difficult transition.

QUESTION:  Almost a week ago, you were in Rome and discussing Libya.

MS. HARF:  Yes, we were.

QUESTION:  I mean, any of these things disturbed by this, the last few days’ events, or not?

MS. HARF:  I can check with our folks and see.  Those discussions obviously were focused on helping Libya continue exactly what I just said —

QUESTION:  That’s why I —

MS. HARF:  — right, move forward here.  But again, it’s not about a person and it’s not about a party, it’s about a process, and I think that’s really what our discussions in Rome made very clear with all of our international partners as well.

In the back, yes.

QUESTION:  I wanted to ask you about South Sudan.  The Riek Machar rebel leader, former vice president, has said that he opposes deployment of IGAD troops that was proposed I guess yesterday by IGAD, that he – if they come in, they’ll be taking sides in a conflict, and he doesn’t want them to deploy.  At the same time, the information minister of Salva Kiir’s government has said that no broadcaster should broadcast interviews with rebels inside the country of South Sudan.  He said that pretty openly, and I wondered – I think he said it to Voice of America, actually.  So I’m wondering on these two things – one, do you have any comment about whether the IGAD monitors should get in, and two, what about South Sudan saying that rebels shouldn’t be shown on TV?

MS. HARF:  Well, unfortunately, I’m sorry, I haven’t seen the specific comments.  In general, we’ve been very supportive of the IGAD process, right, because we want to continue working with our partners in the international community to make progress in South Sudan, to work with both sides to bring them back from the brink of the situation that they’ve found themselves in.  I can take a look at those specific comments.  Again, not having seen the second set, and broadly speaking, we think it’s important for there to be truth from the ground coming out of places like South Sudan.  We think it’s important for reporters to be able to operate.  I mean, I led the briefing today with a statement about freedom of the press in Russia.

So again, without knowing the specifics, I think we do think it’s important for the world to know what’s going on in South Sudan and to know how we’re working with other partners to try and bring the violence and the political situation to a better place.

Is that it?

QUESTION:  Thank you.

MS. HARF:  Thank you, guys.

QUESTION:  Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 2:10 p.m.)



CLUE at The Drama Group
Summer and Fall at Prairie State College